Tyrone seeks to prevent former manager from obtaining pre-complaint information

Attorneys representing the Borough of Tyrone filed documents on Monday in Blair County Court seeking to prevent their former manager’s attorney from obtaining certain information before proceeding with further legal action against the borough.
Last month, former borough manager Nathan George’s attorney Joseph Cavrich filed a writ of summons among other legal documents in Blair County Court.
The writ was filed two weeks after George was fired by the borough during a special public meeting on June 11. However, George contended he was terminated on June 8 in an executive session. He claimed the borough’s actions were in violation of state Sunshine Laws which prevent official action in executive session. He also contended the borough had violated its own home rule charter when it did not allow him to perform certain duties and exercise certain powers granted to him as borough manager as prescribed by the charter.
A previous statement from the borough on the matter essentially disputed the claims and maintained George was fired “with cause” effective with the vote taken at the June 11 meeting.
The filings on George’s behalf were to commence legal action against the borough regarding its actions concerning George’s termination. A writ of summons allows someone to put another party on notice of a lawsuit without having to give the exact reasons behind such a suit.
Cavrich previously explained this is often done when a decision is made to file suit, but all the information to go forward may not yet be available to allow an attorney to detail specific reasons for the suit.
In George’s case he is seeking to obtain information he believes to be in the borough’s possession which include meeting minutes, electronic recordings, notes by the borough secretary and council members regarding executive sessions and certain folders which George indicated were left in his work area which may have relevance to his case.
Additionally, Cavrich has sought a protective order to prevent the destruction or altering of the information being sought on behalf of his client.
Papers were also filed seeking certain answers from individual council members and Tyrone’s mayor Patricia Stoner. Those documents did not reveal the nature of what questions George and his attorney wanted to ask of Tyrone’s governing body.
Now, the borough, through a Pittsburgh-based law firm, Campbell, Durrant and Beatty, is seeking to prevent Cavrich from obtaining the information by filing a protective order.
This morning, attorney Robert Durrant explained the borough is seeking to prevent the plaintiff in the case from seeking the pre-motion discovery,
He said the technique usually is used to allow a party to seek information prior to going forward with a complaint to see if it actually has valid grounds for the complaint. In other words, it is used in an effort not to waste the court and the involved parties time and effort.
Durrant explained he doesn’t believe that scenerio appliers in George’s case.
“We have a letter from them which outlines nine separate causes of action,” said Durrant.
He said the plaintiff in the case already knows what the basis of his complain is and should either file suit or not. Essentially, the borough is contending the pre-complaint discovery isn’t needed for the plaintiff to go forward.
As for Cavrich, he explained he received the borough’s legal filings and was still reviewing them as of this morning. He indicated the borough is seeking to have the court rule “pre-complaint discovery” isn’t needed in the case.
“(What they are saying) is we don’t need the discovery prior to filing a complaint,” said Cavrich.
Cavrich said other documents he received show the borough has also filed its own protective order to preclude him from conducting pre-complaint discovery .
Cavrich also noted a motion has been filed directly relating to him seeking to have him comply with the Pennsylvania ethics rules on what is permissible in terms of attorney statements to the media.
Cavrich believed all of the issues including his motions and the borough’s would likely be dealt with at a hearing which is scheduled for this Thursday before Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle.
Cavrich reserved further comment until the judge rules on the different motions. He indicated Doyle would be the one to explain what is expected of the involved parties based on her rulings.
George was contacted regarding the borough’s recent filings but referred questions to his attorney.
He was also in attendance at last night’s regular borough council meeting where he was observed taking notes and recording the meeting.
When asked this morning why he attended the meeting George offered a brief response.
“I just wanted to see if anything was discussed about me,” he told The Daily Herald. “I also wanted to see what was going on in the community as a citizen.”
The borough itself has been limited in comments on the issue based on the advice of its solicitor Larry Clapper.